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Council of Canadians opposes the indefinite detention of migrants


A dozen Council of Canadians activists recently met with migrant detainees at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario to hear first hand their experiences with indefinite detention. What we heard moved us and reaffirmed our commitment to end this injustice. We urge all our supporters to join us in trying to stop indefinite detention by signing the End Immigration Detention petition, which can be found here.

The Council of Canadians is opposed to immigration detention, particularly indefinite detention. Immigration detention is imprisonment without charges or trial.

The End Immigration Detention Network has highlighted, “At any given time, between 520 and 700 people are in immigration detention in Canada.” Those who can’t be deported – sometimes because their home country is at war or won’t accept them – are often locked up in maximum security prisons for months or even years. The international standard is to limit immigration detention to 90 days, but in Canada there is no such limit. That means that in this country, unlike in the United States or European Union or as recommended by the United Nations, detainees awaiting deportation are jailed indefinitely.

The campaign against this has been particularly focused on the nearly 200 migrants being jailed in Pod 3 at the Central East Correctional Centre.

The network highlights, “Harper’s Public Safety minister Steven Blaney is responsible for this. He could easily introduce regulations creating a presumptive period and limiting immigration detention to 90 days. He could even immediately instruct counsel for immigration enforcement to not contest release of immigration detainees after 90 days of detention.” And significantly, they note that over 40 per cent of immigration detainees, that is over 4,000 people each year are imprisoned in provincial jails. As they are being detained on administrative grounds under federal laws, the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to rent prison space from the provinces. The End Immigration Detention Network is urging provincial authorities across the country to stop supporting Harper’s anti-migrant agenda and refuse immigration detention in provincial jails.

We support the demands of the End Immigration Detention Network which include:

  • Freedom for the wrongly jailed: release all migrant detainees who have been held for longer than 90 days.

  • End arbitrary and indefinite detention: implement a 90-day ‘presumptive period’. If removal cannot happen within 90 days, immigration detainees must be released.

  • No maximum security holds: immigration detainees should not be held in maximum security provincial jails, must have access to basic services and be close to family members.

  • Overhaul the adjudication process: give migrants fair and full access to legal aid, bail programs and pro bono representation.

We also recognize that historically unequal economic relations, resource exploitation, ‘free trade’ agreements and increasingly climate change create the conditions which contribute to the migration of people, and that migrants face unjust treatment and danger crossing militarized borders as they flee these circumstances. They face further discrimination, racism and hardship as undocumented residents in ‘developed’ countries like Canada that often bear responsibility for the conditions which forced their migration from their home countries. In an era with no restrictions on the flow of global capital, we question the restrictions on the movement and freedom of people.

To learn more, go to the End Immigration Detention website here, Like their Facebook page here, and sign their petition here.

Further reading
Council joins call to end indefinite detention of migrants in Lindsay jail (December 2013 blog)
Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter protests the indefinite detention of migrants (February 2015)
Impressive Support In Freezing Weather For Incarcerated Immigration Detainees (December 2013 blog by Michael Butler)